DENVER — The National Football League considers Kareem Jackson too dangerous. Three plays into his return from a suspension, the NFL has banned the veteran safety again.
The Broncos safety lowered his head and right shoulder and slammed into Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who was a runner on the first quarter play. The hit jarred Dobbs’ facemask as Baron Browning stripped the ball loose.
Jackson was not penalized on the play, but the NFL came down hard on Jackson, suspending him for four games without pay on Monday afternoon.
Jackson will appeal the suspension — his second of the season. His repeated violations weighed into the punishment and make it less likely this ban will reduced like it was three weeks ago from four games to two. Jackson will also surrender $558,889 in salary.
Jackson had been fined four times, ejected twice vs. the Commanders and Packers and suspended for two games this season, totaling $89,670 in fines and $279,000 in salary.
In essence, the league believes he is breaking safety rules.
NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan issued the suspension for a violation of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 10 (a) which states that “it is a foul if a player lowers his head and makes forcible contact with his helmet against an opponent.”
In a letter to Jackson, Runyan wrote:
“With 13:38 remaining in the first quarter, you were involved in a play that the League considers a serious violation of the playing rules. The video of the play shows that you lowered your head and made forcible contact to Vikings quarterback Josh Dobbs. You had an unobstructed path to your opponent and the illegal contact could have been avoided. “Illegal acts that are flagrant and jeopardize the safety of players will not be tolerated. The League will continue to stress enforcement of the rules that prohibit using your helmet to make forcible contact with your opponent. On the play in question, you lowered your head and delivered a forceful blow to the shoulder and head/neck area of an opponent when you had time and space to avoid such contact. You could have made contact with your opponent within the rules, yet you chose not to.”
Denver7 spoke with Jackson Sunday night, and he was admittedly unsure what the league office might do — though he was bracing for the worst. Jackson’s past worked against him.
Teammates welcomed Jackson back this week. He is a captain, and few players are more respected in the locker room than the 35-year-old, 14-year veteran.
Broncos players were upset with Monday’s decision.
“The league something else. Lmao! How you supposed to play ball nowadays,” tweeted Broncos All-Pro cornerback Pat Surtain II.
Added All-Pro safety Justin Simmons, “This is unbelievable. Dobbs on this play was playing running back. The TE was under center, snapped the ball and tossed it back to Dobbs who isn’t defenseless. On a 3rd and 1, where you’re fighting for every yard, how are we supposed to stop a runner from falling forward?”
When Denver7 talked to Jackson last Tuesday, he admitted he would need to try to conform to the league’s rules regarding unnecessary roughness.
“I probably have to adjust it a little bit. As far as the tackling, lowering the target, I will try my best to do that. I definitely don’t want to be in this situation again,” Jackson said. “As far as going forward, I am sure there will be bang-bang plays. For me, it’s about staying on the field and not having to go through this.”
Jackson, however, finds himself in this uncomfortable spot: at the mercy of the league, hoping an appeal can bring him back sooner.
Broncos safety Kareem Jackson: ‘I can’t wait to be part of’ defense again
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Jackson’s return was well-timed because his replacement, P.J. Locke, sat out against Minnesota with a sprained ankle. Rookie JL Skinner was active for the first time, playing on special teams. Locke might be able to return this week.
It still represents a loss as Jackson played and meshed well with a defense that has created 12 takeaways the past three games, most in a three-game stretch by the Broncos since 1997.
“It means a lot. A lot. It’s a testament to the guys in this locker room. It’s about getting better every week and the guys have done that. I was able to come back this week and be a part of it. Jumping in and being away from it for a little bit, coming back this week and feeling the energy from the guys, I was excited about it. I think every day is about getting better and we’ve done that. And for us as a crew we have to continue to do that,” Jackson said.
For now, the Broncos will have to do it without Jackson, who is not eligible to return until Week 15 at Detroit.
“I had a hit similar to this last season vs. the Baltimore Ravens. No flag and no fine. There is no consistency in these calls and there is clearly motive and an agenda with certain players,” Simmons said. “Bunch of dirty players in our league. Kareem is not one of them.”